NewsMajor fire in South Africa's parliament causes severe damage

Major fire in South Africa's parliament causes severe damage

A major fire severely damaged the parliament complex in the South African tourist metropolis of Cape Town. Investigations into the cause of the fire are ongoing.

Cape Town – A fire severely damaged South Africa’s parliament in the tourist metropolis of Cape Town on Sunday. More than 70 firefighters had been fighting the blazing flames since the early hours of the morning, trying desperately to get the fire under control.

The fire initially broke out at the rear of the building complex that houses the Old Assembly Chamber and the National Council of the Provinces and a few hours later it spread to the building of the National Assembly, in which the parliament sits, said Patricia de Lille, the minister of the Public Works and Infrastructure Province. Video footage showed thick black columns of smoke rising from the building.

Großbrand in Südafrikas Parlament

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The fire is said to have broken out first at the rear of the building complex and then spread to the building of the National Assembly, in which the parliament sits.

The roof of the old plenary hall had collapsed, while some walls of the government complex had large cracks, it said. The Parliament building is home to many national artifacts. It is still unclear whether these were also damaged, said a member of the city security committee, JP Smith. According to the Cape Town ambulance service, there were no injuries. A 51-year-old man was questioned in connection with the fire, police said. The cause of the fire remained unclear on Sunday; Investigations have been initiated.

President Cyril Ramaphosa, who was still in Cape Town the day after the memorial service for the world-famous human rights activist and retired Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who died a week ago, spoke of a devastating event. “The archbishop would have been shocked too, because this is a place that he prayed for, that he supported and saw as a refuge for our democracy,” said Ramaphosa in front of the cameras. The parliament is only a few meters away from St. George’s Cathedral, in whose mausoleum Tutu’s ashes were buried on Sunday morning. Ramaphosa attended tutu’s memorial service in the cathedral on Saturday. dpa

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